9 Reasons NOT to Take Your Kids to SeaWorld

With the end of the school year right around the corner, you and your family are probably planning lots of fun and exciting things to do together over summer vacation. One thing that you should definitely leave off your itinerary is a trip to SeaWorld. Here are just a few reasons why:

Dolphins are forced to perform confusing tricks and permit trainers to stand on their faces and ride on their backs.

SeaWorld exploits dolphins’ intelligence by forcing them to learn and perform cheap tricks, which have proved harmful and even fatal to them. Although SeaWorld Orlando replaced its Blue Horizons dolphin show with a new show called Dolphin Days—which it claimed would be less theatrical and more educational—recent videos have shown that the park is still up to the same old cruel tricks: Trainers can be seen standing on dolphins faces and riding on their backs during the Dolphin Days show, too.

Orcas in captivity die young.

Orcas in the wild have an average life expectancy of 30 to 50 years—their estimated maximum life span is 60 to 70 years for males and 80 to over 100 for females. Orcas who’ve died at SeaWorld have reached an average age of only 14.

SeaWorld trainers are entertainers, not animal behaviorists.

Trainers often have no formal education in marine biology. Their main purpose is to put on a good show for visitors, not to educate people about the intelligence, social nature, family life, foraging behavior, or habitat of the animals at SeaWorld.

Collapsed dorsal fins are not normal.

In captivity, all male orcas have collapsed dorsal fins as adults. SeaWorld claims that this condition is common and natural. However, it’s rarely seen in the wild. In a few populations, just 1 to 5% of male orcas have collapsed dorsal fins, and those have often been the result of injury.

Touch tanks and other animal “encounters” don’t teach consent.

Animals are not playthings, and it’s irresponsible and dangerous to teach children that it’s OK to handle wild animals against their will—no matter what the setting is. Touch tanks don’t teach kids to ask for permission or even to notice the physical signals that others send when they’re uncomfortable and don’t want to be touched. Instead, they teach them to do what they want without considering the feelings of others.

Dolphins at SeaWorld are being forcibly bred.

Although SeaWorld finally gave in to public pressure and agreed to end its orca-breeding programbreeding that has since been made illegal in Calif­ornia—this does nothing for the more than 100 other dolphins and whales who continue to be forcibly bred at its parks. According to a report from Todd Robeck, a SeaWorld vice president, staff members artificially inseminate the bottlenose dolphins. To do so, they first drug the unwilling female dolphin with diazepam—a sedative—and remove her from water so that she’s unable to fight back. Then they shove an endoscope—a camera and tube filled with semen—into her vagina.

Animals break their teeth out of sheer frustration.

Because of extreme stress, anxiety, and frustration, orcas in captivity gnaw at the iron bars and concrete sides of tanks, often breaking their teeth. In an attempt to prevent the damaged teeth from getting infected, SeaWorld employees drill holes into them so that they can be flushed out daily for the rest of the animal’s life. This procedure is usually performed without sedation and is probably very painful. Dental problems are uncommon in orcas living in nature.

Sunburn is covered up with black zinc oxide.

Orcas at SeaWorld spend much of their time at the surface of the water with little to no protection from the sun. In the wild, orcas spend up to 95% of their time submerged and find shade in the depths of the ocean, but at SeaWorld, the tanks are far too shallow. Former trainers have reported that the animals are perpetually sunburned because of this and that the damaged skin is hidden from public view with the help of black zinc oxide, which matches their skin tone.

Taking your kids to SeaWorld doesn’t teach them empathy.

As you can see, the animals at SeaWorld aren’t living the good life. They’re confined to tiny tanks, often in incompatible groups, and unable to do all the things that are natural and important to them (like diving, exploring, swimming vast distances, and spending time with the members of their pod). Teaching kids that it’s OK to support businesses that imprison animals for human entertainment, like SeaWorld, doesn’t cultivate compassion—it does just the opposite.

Boycott SeaWorld this summer, and tell your friends why they should do the same!

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